I think the “mirror test” of intelligence is a bit of primitive ridiculousness still practiced in psychology (human and animal) as some kind of provability-of-intelligence. But I don’t buy it. That’s recognition of visual form and applying visual form to self.
I know that’s standard and what’s been the test for a very long time but consider how primitive that is of a test, one which we draw such far-reaching conclusions from?
Up until 1984, in the AMA, it was believed babies didn’t feel pain because they didn’t pass the mirror test. They didn’t have recognition of self, therefore no self-awareness, therefore the pain they felt wasn’t REALLY pain of self (because they had no sense of self, as the mirror test shows) but it was instead primitive automated reactions that “didn’t count” somehow.
Somehow self had to be some sort of visual model of self in the brain for there to be self-awareness.
It’s ridiculous. Let’s consider If you are born deaf and blind, do you lack self awareness because you have less senses available?
Yet, you can feel the wind on your face. You can feel heat. You know pain and that it’s you. Blind and deaf people react to pain. They communicate however they can, and can learn to communicate in ways meaningful to us visual/auditory people.
Our current models of are too heavily reliant upon vision and reaction.
Something desperately lacking in current scientific models is a lack of first person perspective.
I’m well read on the accepted processes and practices. The current models are weak, and necessarily so: until there is provability of self-awareness (such as making a surprise noise upon seeing one’s own face in the mirror), all they can say is, “no provable self-awareness”.
But, that’s a limitation of the testing procedures.
Through the years, this self-awareness issue has justified a lot of horrendous things.
Consider coma patients.
Until just a few years ago, it was believed they felt no pain because whatever test they threw at them, didn’t show awareness.
Lots of awful things done to coma patients based upon what amounted to poor testing procedures.
Now, they know better. Coma patients _are_ aware, at least some of them are, at least some of the time.
The way we model self-consciousness is coherent and useful but it’s limited.
Through the past century and a half of modern psychology and modern medicine, the line between “innate” and “learned”, “unconscious/automatic” vs “conscious” has been shifting quite a bit.
The controversy has never gone away.
People with Autism were treated horribly all through the late 1970s because of the self-awareness line being drawn incorrectly.
Babies were not given anesthesia thanks to the line being drawn incorrectly.
Today, there’s a segment of people who believe that we’re not really conscious at all: Just the mathematical product of statistical probabilities. To them, consciousness is an illusion, free will is an illusion, we’re all just running on scripted automation – shades of Skinner but with a bit more stats.
[I actually like a lot of Skinner’s behavioralism we ARE more automated than we want to believe, and he was VERY methodical with his Science… but he was too far in that particular direction, and once you’re aware of your patterns, you can change them, rendering the automation invalid as a necessity but more of a bad habit].
Keller isn’t really the best example though because she lost her vision/hearing at 19 months old.
By 19 months old, that’s OLD cognitively. She’d already learned a LOT about herself and the world.
What happened to her is that she was set-back, and it took a special helper to recover and build upon what she’d already learned in the first 19 months.
To me the really interesting stuff happens pre-birth up to 6 months of age. By 6 months, you see the beginnings of a truly social creature and by 9 months, they’re afraid of strangers and most easily pass the mirror test.
Oh good! Just did a quick Google: I’m not the only one that had misgivings about the mirror test of self-awareness:
Oh I’ve had that! Not in a long time. I think they call it sleep paralysis. Scary as shit. Only had it happen a few times. First time I was about 13/14/15. There was nothing but fear. Then after an indescribable amount of time, the words started talking over themselves.
Then I could mentally verbalize my fear to myself and could “see dark”.
Then FINALLY I could open my eyes and feel my eyelids opening but felt nothing else of my body.
Scary as shit that was.
Not a good idea. Not by far. We’re far from ready for that kind of societal transition.
I worked volunteered there because I wanted to give back.
I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when I was a toddler.
That center (in Union New Jersey), worked with me from the age of 2-4 years old, using physical and occupational therapy. By the age of 5, I was able to enter kindergarten in public school. Nobody knew. There’s no signs.
So, it’s a personal issue for me, this issue between innate and learned, between “reflex” and “thought out”. etc.
I had to WORK AT things that are considered “automatic” in others.
I wanted to see it from the other point of view when I was 22, and did so. I got to do the kinds of things that were done for me at that age.
*IS* there self-awareness even when there doesn’t appear to be any when tested?
I’d assume yes until absolutely certain otherwise.
One has to look at the holistic picture rather than the ideals. The ideals are nice but what really happens? That’s what really happens.
I keep expecting Bill Nye to run for mayor or something. He’s got a political bug in him – I can feel it. So does Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Not sure about Krauss though: He seems satisfied with editorials and books at the moment.
Trouble with idealists in politics: they get chewed up.
Analogy When I was a boy, I had a true-idealist minister at my church. Methodist. [They taught us that science and christianity were 100% compatible, so when I saw my first religious right nutjobs in my 20s, they looked like aliens talking about something different. They still do].
One year, he decided to run for council in our little 1 square mile borough in NJ. He got in ’cause the other guy got caught in a scandal and the others didn’t want him.
After a year, he swore “never again”.
You could watch him change. 60+ year old idealist getting his ideals about “the way things should be” devoured by the beast of politics and facing the darkest sides of human nature.
He never spoke in detail but he got his #childhoodruined year. Come to think of it, he retired not long after that from being a minister. Poor guy.