My Old Age Pass-Time

Some time ago I posted a blog about my Old Age pastime of designing a mathematical model of human behavior. Probably because mathematics is not everybody’s cup of tea it did not arouse much interest so I offer this, more intimate version:
All animals, including humans, possess a nut sized brain but what distinguishes us from other forms of animal is that evolution has endowed us with another brain – the neo-cortex - that enables us to think.
The nut-sized brain – the hypothalamus – controls and integrates the overlapping functions of our endocrine (hormonal) system and our nervous system: It links the neo cortex to the hormonal system and plays an important role in powerful basic drives for survival such as hunger, thirst, sex and the strong emotions such as rage or ecstatic joy that may accompany them. It does all the chores to keep us alive and healthy and to ensure the continuity of our kind. If we fall into a coma it is the hypothalamus that keeps our heart ticking and our bowels open so that we continue to live.
However, the hypothalamus cannot think; it has no conscience and therefore no morals. The task of moderating its effects is left to the neo cortex and that depends on the education or training that it has received.
Therefore, the way in which we react in a particular circumstance depends on the relative forces due to the hormonal system on one hand and education or training on the other hand.
In mathematical parlance forces that have amplitude and direction or tendency are called vectors and mathematics enables us to deal with them.

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Published in Senior Chatters


  1. starlette

    Hi Rodger, all complex stuff, so the efficient functioning of the neo cortex is responsible for peoples behaviour……..if it malfunctions through lack of education or training, this could result in bad behaviour leading to allsorts of crime….think there must be lots of people out there who could do with a lobotomy……..

    1. rodger Post author

      Thank you Starlette: Indeed you have highlighted an important conclusion that should be obvious whether it concerns potty training of a child, house training of a pet or rehabilitation of a criminal. Your remark brings to mind the film “A Clockwork Orange”

  2. waylander

    To try to reduce human, or animal, thought to “mathematical parlance” will, from my experience, lead you only to massive misunderstandings of how and why people, or animals, will react.

    In the words of Number 6 “I am not a number. I am a free man”

    1. rodger Post author

      Hi Waylander: I am afraid that we have a totally different concept of Mathematics. For me it is a means to help me think clearly, express myself precisely to come to a useful conclusion. It will certainly not lead me to misunderstand. As for not being a number, have you not noticed all those, pins; passwords, keywords and other codes and numbers that are required for you to exercise your liberty?

  3. Scorpio

    Maybe I’m a little dense but I’m not actually comprehending the point of this blog. Perhaps someone might enlighten me. Thankyou.

    1. rodger Post author

      Hello Scorpio. The points of my blog are: Several bloggers have wondered what to do with their free time when retired; this is one of my pastimes: Several bloggers have expressed the fear that the Blog page is dying because of lack of patronage: I was hoping to make the acquaintance of a fellow spirit on the site.

  4. vonMichael

    Sorry Rodger but I have to agree to what Starlette and Way are saying. People become a number when they get jailed, in hospital or waiting for the funeral. We should never reduce humans down on a number. No way…

    1. rodger Post author

      Hello Michael, my replies to Starlette and Waylander also reply to you and as you say you become a number in many other ways. I agree that it is morally unjustified but it is a fact of modern life imposed by other humans. How could a modern bureaucratically governed society function otherwise?

  5. vonMichael

    Hi Rodger,
    I would like to extend your considerations aby two points.

    First as there is the barcode on those cards we own.
    Second the IP-number whereas there the comuter gets identified and not the person.
    Regards Michael

    1. rodger Post author

      Hello again Michael, The bar code is another form of digitally expressing information that can be read in a particular manner such as at a supermarket checkout counter. My words were ” …. necessary to exercise your freedom” . I did not say to identify.

  6. catalpa

    I do agree Roger that while its important to maintain the individuality and spirit of the person, the body is basically a machine, itself. And in this manner, it requires attention and maintenance. Specifically with regard to the brain, certainly there are abnormalities, but generally we have a significant control over much of it with the influence of our foods, environment, experiences, focus, patterns of behavior. Knowing this gives us a certain accountability to what we put into it for our overall welfare. While random thoughts are possibly a harmlessly passing moment, other times they become a harmful influence and focus in their repetition and result. Studies have shown certain things to expand and exercise certain areas of the brain, often productive–such as memory games for our cognitive strength. Other focuses in repetition do significant damage such as the repetitive practice of internet pornography, which studies show leave people unable to respond to humanity directly in a physical sense. Both the cognitive portion and the emotional portion affect our thinking and beliefs in the manner exercised–thus our constantly evolving individuality . Who we are at a core is largely not a random thing, and what we contribute to our overall self does make a difference. And likewise, with regard to our culture and various environments–like prison systems–knowing these things can and do influence our outcomes when they are attended to accordingly.

  7. rodger Post author

    Hello Catalpa, Your comments echo what I think and what I hope my model will demonstrate if I can only solve a few problems. My mantra is: ‘if I can’t measure it then I don’t know what I am talking about’: It is extremely difficult to quantify neurological parameters and variables. That means that my algorithms are further complicated by having to make the variables dimensionless – in other words – the model will be abstract but I have still a long way to go and it is a cold, lonely world out here!

  8. roseinbloom

    rodger, I say hooray for you and your hobby. It works for you and you spend your time using skills that you like to use. In all due respect, you are a mathematician and not a brain scientist, so we cannot take your statements about the brain as having a lot of credibility. I have reason a huge amount of research on human behavior and the higher the mathematics used, the less credibility the results have. If we count things and multiply and divide etc, we come out with some believable conclusions. When we start with statistics and formulas and computations of probability of error, the research can come up with totally invalid conclusions.
    In this country, mathematicians were do advanced mathematics to calculate the buying and selling of homes, which were used to convince people of a falsehood. The housing industry callasped, as a result of this false math.
    I enjoy qualitative study of human behavior, which includes a human being telling their story about an aspect of life. At least I know one human who wants this story to be believed. I value people who are honest and open for that reason. I avoid deceivers. I like this site and I enjoy a few people a lot based on whether they are honest and willing to share their own personal experience.
    I have a brother who is an engineer and mathematician, he has dreadful ways of managing money and making life decisions. He is lucky he has a pension and he had a very good job because he never read and got enough information, He just liked to play with his numbers or his technical stuff.
    People are very, very complicated, and the ancients knew more about people based on experience and rational thinking than we now know by using pseudo science.

  9. rodger Post author

    Thank you Rose for your very welcome post.
    May I say first that no statement in my post about the brain is mine: All that I said is from a professional source and every word can be verified on line simply by typing Hypothalamus. Nevertheless, that does not mean that I don’t know what I am talking about as I have studied the subject, dilettante, for several years.
    Regarding the Maths. I am surprised at your statement that the higher the maths the less the credibility. Professionally, I have had lot of experience with servo-systems involving the science of Cybernetics: This calls for some very abstract maths without which no successful design would be possible
    However, I agree with you that Statistics can be used to abuse people but please blame the abusers not the maths. If nine people earn £1000 and one person earns £10000 then the average income of the group is £1900. The arithmetic is correct but the result can be used to imply that nine people earn nearly the double of what they do. If you do the same exercise for the country and include all the multibillionaires you will be surprised at how rich you are statistically!
    Maths is an exact science but what comes out depends on what is put in and which buttons are twiddled.
    In your last paragraph, you compare pseudo-science with rational thinking. Do you have a definition for pseudo-science, is it…irrational thinking?