Universal Responses to Music – We Are All Pavlov’s Dog

In a study by Hauke Egermann, et al. (January 2015), it was found that humans seem to have a universal physiological response to sound – specifically music in this study. The tests were performed with forty Congolese Pygmies and forty Canadians. In all subjects, there were similar physiological response to musical examples, even when the music was very familiar to one group and not the other!

What makes this study so interesting is the fact that members of each group, when questioned about how the music made them feel, reported different emotional responses, despite having the same physiological response. “This crowd-789652_640suggests that subjective emotional ratings might have been more subject to cultural influences than physiological responses to the stimuli.”

The complexity of intellect and emotion attached to the physiological response to music is amazing. Like Pavlov’s dog we feel sadness when a certain music is played, not because, as was believed in the past, the music itself is sad. The physiological response has been paired with other information which is triggered when the music plays.

The ideas in this study, I believe, can be applied beyond music. For instance, everything we experience with any of our senses can produce a physiological response and attached to that is a body of emotional and intellectual information that defies mere explanation. How can understanding these responses help us to better facilitate learning, more easily solve our most important social issues, and better understand ourselves?

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Boy Bands, Some of the Devil’s Finest Work

The Boy Band phenomena isn’t new. Some argue that the concept goes back to theThe-Osmonds Doo-Wop bands of the 50s but I think the concept is different today and should be traced back to the Monkees. Some believe that the Beatles, who the Monkees were based on, were the real innovators, but I disagree. There are some key elements that make up a Boy Band, and a Girl Group for that matter, that the creators of the Monkees pioneered – the concept is the engineering a band. The Beatles were too real.

First, the band is made up of different manufactured personalities that will each appeal to different people, thus extending the audience. The Doo-Wop bands didn’t do this on purpose, if it happened it was real. The personalities created for the Boy Band are usually the heart-throb, the brain, the clown, the introspective artist, and the jock. There are variations, but these are the five I’ve noticed. Kiss did this with their make-up, though I’m not sure their intentions were the same. The boys in the band then need to play these roles whenever they’re out, which has the unfortunate effect of turning their lives into one big performance and increasing the risk of total burn out and breakdown…

Next, they all need to be pretty. Each person in the crowd they’re appealing to is interested first in how good a mate they would be. There is a profound shallowness in relationship between band and fan based on the combination of appearance and false persona. Luckily for the fans, they’ll probably never meet their “love” so it can fade on its own before any kind of soul-crushing disappointment can occur.

Finally, the band will need to be able to perform music and dance… The music is somewhere in the mix, but is less important. Their handlers chose the music for them, and if they have a hand in it creation at all, it’s just suggestions here and there while the real work of music craftsmanship (not composition or artistry, mind you) is handled by the corporately-approved songwriters and psychologists who craft trite, mostly meaningless songs that will get stuck in your poor head and drive sales just far enough to make a few people millionaires before the song is forgotten and replaced by another meaningless piece of garbage. Of course… this is just my well founded and deeply researched opinion…

In the end, the Boy Band isn’t the culprit. The Boy Band is a symptom of the cancer in our society that makes nearly everything stink. Our quest for money, which is really just a form of power and control, is to blame. But that’s for another extremely long post.

There is no such thing as freedom.

I could leave this post at that, “there is no such thing as freedom.” It says it all. But I know that this statement will be misunderstood by most, and many will disagree with it.

Let me start by saying that this is what I believe and I hope you can prove me wrong. In the interest of brevity, I will only touch on these ideas. Additionally, I’m not very interested in wild conspiracy theories. Everything here is based on things I know for sure and my observation of the world, I try to make a clear delineation between known facts and my own speculations.

Everything we think, every decision we make, every action we take is based on the past. And this past is created by a huge, complicated web of you, family, religion, school, society, laws, political systems, the natural world… what did I leave out? There is a large group of diverse forces pulling at your mind at all times. Even when you think you’re making an independent decision, no matter how “random” or contrary, you’re not.

Krishnamurti believed it was actually possible to be free. Even if it was possible to free the mind, however, there is still the need to eat, stay warm, not get eaten by wild animals, avoid accident, and breath… That seems like a definite cage.

I don’t believe the power elite (those who hold all the money and power in the world) are free either. Of course, I’m not one of them, so I can’t say for sure. I think, however, that they have accepted their slavery and like a matador controls the movements of a bull, the power elite attempt to control the movements of society in desperate attempts to maintain their power. Like the matador, they only control trends and movements, but not the beast itself.

People like Edward Bernays knew about this. Using the knowledge pioneered by his uncle, Sigmund Freud, Bernays created the public relations industry whose sole purpose is to essentially trick us into wanting something. Used mainly to sell us products we don’t need, it can also be used to sway public opinion about nearly anything.

Foucault believed that where there is knowledge, there is also power. That’s not to only say that knowledge is power, but the powerful seek to control knowledge to control the rest of us. Perhaps this is why nearly all of our media is controlled by large corporations, the tools of the power elite.

Further, and this is more speculation, I think the desire for power and vast wealth is simply a mutation of our survival instinct, the result of a broken mind drowning in unhappiness and fear.

The idea of the panopticon (which I also learned about throughpanopticon-image1 Foucault), a circular structure designed by Jeremy Bentham to make it possible to watch everyone in it at all times, has become more than just a building. Most of us have come to the point where our every move is documented online – the internet and our many connections to it through gps, social media, and standard surveillance serves as a modern panopticon in which all of us live.

Still, though I believe that there is no such thing as freedom, I don’t believe that any person, or group of people is capable of completely controlling us. I think the forces that drive us may be partially understood and used by the elite, but the totality is beyond them as recent elections and movements like Occupy and the rising of protests all over the world seem to prove. This system, made of multiple diverse elements that all play on our minds and instincts in complex ways is not yet within anyone’s control… I hope…