Hjem Danish
Balloons over Copenhagen (tower of Danish Parlament in the background

English post from my old blog:

Economic inequality
March 12, 2013

Al Gore points out, that economic inequality in the US has increased dramatically in the last 25 years. Personal fortunes and incomes are less equally distributed than in Tunisia or Egypt, where the gap between rich and poor certainly contributed to the "Arab Spring" uprisings. Al Gore points to this video as clearly illustrating the problem. A real eye-opener!

New blog

Common sense and science
October 2021

The other day I was speaking with a new acquaintance, who upon learning that I was a psychologist, asked me some of the usual questions.
"Do you as a psychologist usually diagnose everyone you meet?"
"Don't psychologists just deal with matters that we all already know about perfectly well?"

I could quickly answer no to the first question. I am not at work in my free time.

The second question I had to answer with a "Yes, but..".
It's true we all use a knowledge of people's experience and behavior most of the time in our daily lives. This applies both to our experience-based knowledge of ourselves and to knowledge of other people's reactions. But psychology as a science is something different and more than everyday human knowledge. It's an attempt to prove the scientific laws of experience and behavior.
Some sciences, for example Assyriology, deal with knowledge that is not commonly known. But other sciences, such as physics, study relationships that everyone constantly uses in their daily lives, just like psychology does. Take the "law of gravity": everyone expects an apple you drop or that breaks off a tree to fall to the ground.
That's not what Newton discovered when, according to the anecdote, he was hit on his head by a falling apple. On the other hand, it was the insight that there was a general law of movement that could perhaps be described mathematically. It's not entirely true that things are falling down. On the other side of the world, they fall upwards - from our point of view. And the apple doesn't just fall at a certain constant rate. If you measure it, it turns out that it accelerates with a certain constant acceleration. Objects are attracted to the earth by a force proportional to their weight, or more correctly their mass, which, according to Newton's insight, is no longer the same as weight. And his solution was radical: a law of general attraction between all masses, proportional to each of the masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. Then you could mathematically calculate for the orbits of the planets.

Psychology also tries to find empirically confirmed laws, but they can rarely be formulated as accurately as in the case of Newtonian mechanics.

The fragile experience of reality
January 31 2022

At times when I have been ill or extremely tired, I have discovered, I have discovered mistaken perceptions of my surroundings.
These episodes don't just occur in periods of weakened consciousness, but also in milder form at times with full awareness.
Some of my faculties seem generally weakened with age. Mis-hearings of words occur often, and are corrected by my wife. My earlier very precise sense of direction can fail at times, when the inner compass suddenly seems to be inverted with east pointing to west and vice versa. Likely more or less normal failings of age.

A few times an alternative interpretation of reality can result in an almost mystical experience.
I remember once on Mallorca when I in the almost darkness of twilight looked out from a second floor corridor in our hotel and saw what I thought was an abandoned garden of an old villa, now gone. Beauty in decay, nicely planted vegetation, an old gate adjourned by statues.
I pointed it out to my wife who at once saw a mini-golf course under repair or being rebuilt.
The next morning I could see it for myself. The lanes were placed in between trees and bushes and scattered building materials. The statues were cheap garden variety adornments and the whole area was connected with the Turkish grill in front.
However, somehow there was still a feeling of past splendor about the place. The trees were actually old and the gate had become enveloped inside a growing hedge. Maybe my original impression was some kind of vision of something behind the present and conventional reality? Maybe I saw the garden as it was at an earlier period in time or as it was destined to become later.
Maybe this is what visionary people experience more often?

Wilson and Sheldrake
November 5 2022

Been reading ”The misfits – A study of Sexual Outsiders” (1988).
Colin Wilson is a very versatile writer, author of crime novels, sci-fi, biographies and essays.
The book is about sexual minorities, but turns out to be just as much a history of literature, especially of the novel.
As the word says, the novel represents a new development in literature starting around 1740 (the year of Richardson's ”Pamela”). Whereas earlier epic writing almost exclusively was concerned with actions, the overt behavior of people, and seldom if at all addressed their inner thoughts, feelings and aspirations. In other words no depiction of subject's consciousness or imagination was included. The appearance of the novel and the romantic movement as such changed the course of literature and general perceptions permanently.
Wilson postulates that sexual perversions were rare, or at least not perceived in the public mind, before this time because imagination was not applied for sexual satisfaction. Somehow collective consciousness was changed, and various paradigms for such a change are discussed. Surprisingly Wilson refers to Rupert Sheldrake (”A New Science of Life”, 1981) and his concept of cognitive resonance.
This corresponds with a recurring theme in Wilson's authorship, the thought that the human mind has a huge, undiscovered potential, capable of opening up new realms of consciousness and even influencing the material world.

AI answers questions about consciousness
November 2022/February 2023

The last week has seen many of mentions of ChatGPT and OpenAI. I couldn't resist logging on and posing a few questions about consciousness.

The first question, which I didn't save was whether consciousness was as real as matter. OpenAI simply answered "Yes".
The next questions were more specific:

Is consciousness as real as physical matter?


Consciousness is a complex and multifaceted concept that
 is not fully understood, but many experts believe that it is
 a real phenomenon that arises from the functioning of the 
 brain. While consciousness is not a form of physical matter, 
 it is thought to be closely tied to the physical activity of 
 the brain and to arise from the interactions of neurons and 
 other cells in the nervous system. Some theories of 
 consciousness propose that it is a fundamental aspect of the 
 universe, in the same way that space, time, and matter are 
 considered to be fundamental aspects of reality. Others 
 suggest that consciousness emerges from the complexity of 
 the  brain and its ability to process information and generate 
 subjective experiences. Ultimately, the nature of consciousness 
 and its relationship to the physical world are still topics of 
 active research and debate in the fields of neuroscience, 
 psychology, and philosophy.

Are you conscious?

I am a machine learning model trained to assist with
 a variety of tasks, such as answering questions and providing
 information on a wide range of topics. I do not have 
 consciousness or the ability to experience thoughts or 
 feelings like a human being. My responses are based on 
 the information and input I have been trained on, and I do not 
 have the ability to access new information or learn like a 

At a later date I presented OpenAI with a real challenge to it's creativity:

Can you write a symbolist poem about a drunken boat?

Sure, here is a symbolist poem about a drunken boat:

In a state of inebriation,
The boat set sail on the ocean
Drifting aimlessly, lost and alone
Battling the waves, but never atone

The winds of change, they did blow
Pushing and pulling, to and fro
The boat, it swayed and it rocked
Drunk on the motion, till it was knocked

To the depths it did descend
Into the dark and cold watery end
A symbol of excess and debauchery
A cautionary tale, of what not to be

But even in death, the boat did find
A sense of peace, a calm of mind
Drifting forever, in the endless sea
A drunken boat, finally free.

I was thinking of the famous, symbolist poem by Arthur Rimbaud, here in several translations from french. Compaired to the original OpenAI's version is much less fabulating or colorful. Whereas OpenAI's version focuses on factual happenings and has a moralistic tone, Rimbauds poem expresses phenomenological experience and can be seen as a total rebellion against societal control and even logic (the crew has been slaughtered and left behind and the boat is guided by random, chaotic forces).
This difference is not surprising, since the present examples of "AI" are "large language models" using big-data statistics to find the most common expressions following in the sequence they are constructing. This tends to make them midways-seeking, finding an average of the variety of texts, they have been trained with.
Kind of like finding news by only reading "trending" or "what others are viewing" on webpages.